Ever since Avengers: Endgame released in theaters, fans have been asking whether directors Joe and Anthony Russo would ever return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The pair made their name with two Captain America films, The Winter Soldier and Civil War, but it was their take on the Avengers that shot the duo to the top of the superhero game.
While it is still unknown if the Russo brothers are done working with Marvel Studios, the two are forever intrinsically tied to the franchise because of their contributions during the Infinity Saga. Despite some fan criticism, the pair really did live up to the lofty expectations set by audiences everywhere, putting out some of the best-reviewed MCU projects up to that point.
But what was the recipe for their success? How did they take one of the biggest names in Hollywood (the MCU) to a whole new level? Well, the pair recently sat down to answer exactly that.
The Russo Brothers Recipe
In an interview with GQ, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed how they handled fan pressure when working within the MCU.
Anthony said that when they were crafting their Marvel blockbusters they made sure to keep asking "how do we surprise ourselves," as the two are "huge fans" of the franchise themselves:
"There was a lot of pressure, but you know, again, the thing that we could always default to, which helped us move through any ideas of outside pressure, was just ourselves. You know, we were huge fans ourselves. We just kept focused on, ‘How do we surprise ourselves? How do we challenge ourselves? And how do we find the most satisfying version of the story for ourselves?’ 'Cause it’s just too complicated when you start to think about the complexity of all the different fans, all the different expectations. There’s so many directions you can go in that storytelling; infinite possibility. We just really had to use our own, inner sort of meter to sort of find our way through it.”
Joe followed this up by comparing his Avengers: Endgame experience to "diving off of like, a 12-story building into a cup of water," saying that "it’s not easy to please" everyone:
“It really was like diving off of like, a 12-story building into a cup of water. It’s not easy to please a wide ranging, you know, highly opinionated, diverse group of people, who all want something different from the story. You’re always gonna piss somebody off. And we learned very early on that, you know, the fans were always gonna be contradictory. Look, we poured our heart and souls into those movies, because we wanted to pass along the feelings that we had, watching large-scale movies as children in theaters, to other kids… The goal for us was to make sure that, you know, a new generation could walk out of those theaters, and have lifetime memories from being there, watching it with their family, or their friends, and having, you know, a true theatrical experience, you know, at 2:00 in the morning in New Jersey.”
The pair then finished off by mentioning that, as fans, they just try to create movies that will ignite "interest, and excitement, and joy," and after seeing fans "waiting in line for hours" to see their movies " over and over and over again" it's pretty easy to let you "forget all the sort of manufactured divisiveness" in the world:
Anthony: “We fell in love with movies as fans, not as filmmakers, to be able to activate that level of interest, and excitement, and joy.”
Joe: “We sat in a few of those theaters and, you know, brought tears to our eyes that people were, you know, waiting in line for hours, going to see it in the middle of the night, seeing it over and over and over again. And it doesn’t matter where you come from, or who you are, you know, you’re all having a similar experience. And sort of lets you forget all the sort of manufactured divisiveness that’s in the world today.”
Marvel by the Fans, for the Fans
It is not hard to tell just how much the Russo Brothers love both Marvel and movies in general, but hearing how closely that passion was a part of their MCU filmmaking process is extremely cool. While most creatives involved in major-IP like the MCU are fans in some capacity, that is not always the case.
At its core, Avengers: Endgame was a celebration for the fans. It was a tribute to the first ten years of what has become one of the biggest names in pop culture. So, having people behind the film that were as big fans as the people in the theater seats was a must.
And this effort to create something that the directing duo wanted to see themselves is evident when watching the film. One only has to look as far as the portal scene in the final act of Endgame. A director who was not working under this same personal mandate may have seen this sequence as a case of cheesy IP-grandstanding. But the Russo Brothers thought differently. In the end, fans got a scene that truly felt like a culmination of years of following these characters and watching these movies.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream now on Disney+.